Meet Gigliola Staffilani, PhD

In a September 2012 Science of the Public program The Grand Geometry of Nature, in which she and her mathematician husband appeared, Professor Staffilani explained the excitement of unraveling mathematical relationships that dictate the forces and patterns of Nature. The phenomena she studies are very difficult to formulate, but she loves the challenge of this most abstract dimension and she has been very successful in her work.

Gigliola Staffilani is the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her work in theoretical mathematics focuses on Partial Differential Equations (PDE) and Harmonic Analysis, and is concerned mainly with a type (dispersive) of partial differential equations that are used in physics to describe wave phenomena. She is an editor of two professional journals.

Dr. Staffilani received her PhD in Mathematics at the University of Chicago. Before joining the MIT in 2002, she held tenured positions at Princeton, at Stanford, and at Brown. She was a member of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study in 2003-2004, and the Elizabeth S. and Richard M. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliff e Institute for Advanced Study in 2009-2010.

Dr. Staffilani’s remarkable personal journey from a family farm in Italy to a brilliant career in a world-class university is described in this Boston Globe story: A Life of Unexpected Twists Takes Her from Farm to Math Department. This story is the quintessential American Dream story of a rise from very modest circumstances to great success. It’s a great encouragement to young people everywhere: Dr. Staffilani has demonstrated that determination and good fortune can make even the most improbable dreams reality.